Vietnam Plans Limited Reopening by Year’s End

Phu Quoc and Hoi An are among five places that will let in double-jabbed foreign visitors in a pilot scheme.

A view of Sao Beach on Phu Quoc, Vietnam’s largest island. (Photo: Paul Szewczyk/Unsplash)

The next two months could see international tourists returning to Vietnam if local populations have enough Covid-19 vaccine coverage. While a full reopening isn’t scheduled until June 2022, fully vaccinated travelers from low-risk countries will soon be able to visit a handful of major destinations, starting with the island of Phu Quoc in late November. From December, Vietnam also aims to reopen two of its most well-known UNESCO World Heritage sites — karst-studded Halong Bay in the north and the historic trading town of Hoi An in Quang Nam province — as well as two cities in the south-central region: Dalat and Nha Trang.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the Vietnamese government said it would only let in foreign tourists “when it’s truly safe,” adding that authorities were “moving step by step, cautiously but flexibly to adapt to real situations of the pandemic.”

It was hoped that Phu Quoc would begin welcoming international visitors in October, but those plans were postponed by a month after vaccination targets were missed owing to a lack of supplies. Instead, a phased reopening of the island will take place over six months starting on November 20, with a maximum of three chartered flights allowed per week in the initial trial period. It is understood that Covid-19 testing will be conducted on arrival, but officials have not yet confirmed if foreign travelers will be subject to a seven-day quarantine recommended by the Vietnamese health ministry.

Like other countries around the Asia-Pacific region, Vietnam successfully kept out Covid-19 through much of 2020, but has been slower to vaccinate its residents. The inoculation program has since accelerated in the wake of a Delta variant–driven outbreak; so far, about 36 percent of its population of 98 million has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while just under 12 percent have been fully vaccinated.

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